There's nothing better than a film recommendation, so Head Programmer Nathan Senn has offered us just that — here are his top picks for this year's weird but very wonderful collection of films.
Donna Haraway: Storytelling for Earthly Survival
In what is perhaps the most challenging and equally rewarding film on our program, Belgian filmmaker Fabrizio Terranova turns his lens on famed author and social theorist Donna Haraway. Inventive and playful, Terranova provides a stage for Haraway to speak freely on topics ranging from animal sentience to the Anthropocene. The film mirrors Haraway's discursive storytelling by employing a green screen to experiment with the surroundings. A complex delight, this is a film that will leave viewers bubbling with conversation as they leave the cinema.
A film of serine beauty, Wild Plants is a must-see for anyone with a green thumb or an appreciation of the tranquility of nature. The film follows a cast of larger than life characters, from urban gardeners in Detroit to members of an agricultural cooperative in Switzerland, who have all stepped outside of the established social order to forge deeper, personal connections with their natural environments. Surprisingly philosophical and touching, Wild Plants offers a welcome reminder of the ever-increasing importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with the natural world.
Voices From Chernobyl
The only narrative feature on this year’s program, Voices From Chernobyl is a visually stunning film that recalls the very best works of Russian masters Andrei Tarkovsky and Andrey Zvyaginstev. Based on Svetlana Alexievich’s Nobel Prize winning novel of the same name, the film respectfully gives voice to the survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Refraining from direct comment on the nuclear energy debate, the film instead presents a haunting and poetic reflection on how such an event can impact a landscape and forever change the lives of those who inhabit it.
Now in its third year, Sensory Environments brings together some the year’s best experimental films, with a thematic focus on works that examine the relationship between humans and their surrounding environments. Curated by EFFA’s own Bek Spies, the package will take you on a voyage of great cinematic imagination. Travel through the interior of a lime works factory, a deserted Lebanese ghost town and journey down into a microverse inhabited by bugs, slugs and an assortment of insects, then experience immersive abstractions, a fast paced botanicollage and elegiac prose from sci-fi luminary Ursula Le Guin.
A deeply moving and impactful cinematic experience, The Swirl presents a beautiful meditation on the intersection between identity, culture and place. Considerations of femininity, power, memory, and familial history poignantly converge in this languid ob-doc that follows a family of farmers who live on an oft-flooding hamlet in El Remolino, Mexico. In what has arisen as a bit of a theme in this year’s programming, the film presents a series of inspirational characters and with subtly and grace, explores how the ever-changing ecology in which they live drastically impacts their lives.